Over the last couple weeks (months, whatever – everything started blending together) our family was assembling an event in support of our oldest daughter – her marriage to a remarkable young man. I enjoyed their courtship; his family supports my daughter in all she does, and I could always tell their evenings together were drawing to a close because of the sounds of laughter coming through the windows. My wife, who designed and built wedding dresses professionally in Denver while she was still in high school, designed and assembled over a dozen dresses for the wedding party including the bridal gown – all in the last two weeks. My sister-in-law, a professional caterer while she was still in high school, assembled an astounding multi-tiered cake with mango and pineapple filling as well as hors d’oeurvre for everyone at the reception within a similar ridiculous time-frame. The whole family from youngest cousin to silver-haired in-law rolled up their sleeves and pitched in, neighborhood friends let us use their spectacularly gorgeous yard, and it was an absolutely beautiful day for the new couple. When I became sore from standing and greeting so many pleasant strangers coming to wish my daughter and her new spouse well, it just so happened that several of my friends showed up at exactly the right time to share a table with me and visit while the circulation came back into my lower limbs. And a remarkable number of friends and neighbors pitched in to clean up afterwards.
It was a wonderful event for the family and everyone involved heaved huge sighs of relief that all went well (in spite of the inevitable hiccups); it also gave me opportunity to reflect on some of the things such bondings symbolize. Particularly, because my brain always seems to go to these kinds of places, the Alchemical Wedding.
The Alchemical Wedding, the marriage of Sun and Moon, is a reflection on what it means to become a whole person, a being worthy of salvation or the Ideal Man as Ibn Arabi discusses. It is not an internal union of opposites as is easy to misunderstand, but is rather a beautiful dance, balance, or collaboration between complementary principles. Rather than competing enemies, the “Masculine” or Active and “Feminine” or Passive elements are different sides of the same coin, so to speak, not combative but supportive – each exists to “help” the other, neither could exist without the other, and the energies of their joining allow creation to occur. Yin – the moon, water, yielding, that which is acted upon, “right-brain” activity or intuition – needs the Yang – the sun, wind, solid, that which acts, “left-brain” activity or rationality. Neither is “weaker” to the other or its servant, but rather each are entirely necessary and equal to the other while remaining completely different. This line of thought seems reasonable and appropriate to apply to thoughts of a couple’s union, but this kind of “marriage” also takes place in each of us, or should. The union of our own passive and active elements, the balance of our rational and intuitional minds, the continuing dance of the unpredictable and the intended inside our heads – this dance is one of those mysterious things that make us human, and the creative energy unleashed during the process can be truly remarkable.
Alchemical texts deal quite a bit with discussions of the marriage of the Sun and Moon and their union, and many seem to suggest that the masculine must overcome the feminine, or the “she” of the moon must submit to the “he” of the sun. However, balance is not the same as the submission of one to the other or one overpowering the other; the object of the alchemical marriage is for the two principles to become one within the individual – balance and unity come when both participate in the ongoing dance of creation as equals.
It is a truism that two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying.